With billions of dollars spent to revive Canada’s tourism sector, a grant of $ 851,522 seems like a drop in the ocean. But according to the mayor of Kimberley, B.C., this provincial investment in the city of the Rocky Mountain e-bike infrastructure will pay dividends well in excess of six figures.
“The e-bike phenomenon is not a fad, it’s here to stay,” says Don McCormick, adding that Kimberley’s “Electrify the Mountains” project will make it “the first community in North America to adopt a trails specially designed for electric bikes and adaptive electric bikes.
Electrify the Mountains adds 36 kilometers of electric pedal bike trails equipped with solar charging stations. Scheduled to open in 2022, the trails will cross 840-hectare Kimberley Nature Park and the nearby Nordic Center.
Fueled in part by the demand for social-distancing outdoor activities, the popularity of electric bikes has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Year over year, global sales grew 145% in 2020, reports the New York-based NPD Group, surpassing a 65% increase in sales of all bikes. In the meantime, e-bike sharing, rental and subscription services have sprung up in dozens of cities and towns across Canada.
These zero-emission rides are popular with travelers because they can cover greater distances than would be possible on foot or on conventional bikes, regulate rider effort by providing battery-powered assistance when needed, and can negotiate paths and roads closed to cars. and too rugged for electric vehicles such as scooters. No wonder a growing number of Canadian hotels and resorts are offering electric bike rentals – Western Newfoundland Sugar Hill Inn, western Quebec Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, and the coasts of British Columbia Tweedsmuir Lodge are three recent examples – with tour operators across Canada incorporating them into new offerings explored below.
Banff by electric bike
White mountain adventures and Banff cycle both launched guided e-bike tours of Canada’s first national park this summer. Early offerings include a 50-mile round-trip trip along the Bow Valley Parkway that is crossed by a short hike to the waterfall-draped Johnston Canyon, and a 50-mile round-trip jaunt along the trail without Rocky Mountain Legacy drive between Banff and the equally scenic town of Canmore. Banff Cycle, meanwhile, adds a three-hour guided “Banff and Bow Valley” tour to the mix. This typically includes the 8-mile Lake Minnewanka Loop, Banff Townsite, Tunnel Mountain Road, Vermilion Lakes, and the 5-mile Banff Springs Golf Course Loop that passes through thundering Bow Falls.
Fatbike in the Yukon
This new excursion of the luxurious Mount Logan EcoLodge on the Alaska Highway near Haines Junction is an exception to the rule that Canadian e-bike tours hibernate in the winter. Equipped with oversized tires to accommodate riding on snow and other unstable surfaces, the lodge’s large e-bikes can be booked for two-hour guided tours that explore the pristine nature bordering Kluane National Park.
Sipping and Electric Biking in Niagara
Niagara Bike Tours hosts group rides of at least four electric cyclists ranging in length from 65 to over 110 kilometers. Routes include a two-day ‘Introductory Niagara Hike’, which can be customized to visit local attractions ranging from wineries to waterfalls, and a new ‘Beer and Bikes’ tour, which cycles between more than a dozen craft breweries.
Bikes and bears in Churchill
After organizing dog sledding tours for over a decade, Wapusk Adventures began offering three-hour electric bike tours of the Churchill area this summer. Accompanied by a guide and a rifle-armed polar bear guard – to better frighten the world’s largest land carnivore – riders admire various murals in the town of Churchill before following the steep coastline of Hudson Bay to the surreal wreckage of a Curtiss C-46 cargo plane, known locally as “Miss Piggy,” which approached the runway at Churchill Airport in 1973.
Gardens and Gouda on Vancouver Island
Located in the pretty Qualicum beach, the new Electric bicycle company. offers a three-hour “Home and Garden Tour” showcasing upscale private residences and seaside flowers; a four to five hour drive and ferry trip to Hornby Island, home to Helliwell and Tribune Bay Provincial Parks; and a two-hour cruise along forest trails and back roads to Little Qualicum Cheese Works at Morningstar Farm with a stop for snacks at the Wild Culture Bakery or the soon-to-open Fern + Cedar Brewery.
Celtic colors on the Cabot Trail
Based in the small village of The Lodge on the scenic Nova Scotia Lighthouse Route, Freewheeling adventures recently rotated to add guided e-bike tours to its extensive menu of multi-day bike trips. An upcoming six-day tour of the 300-mile Cabot Trail, for example, will meander through the fiery fall foliage of Cape Breton Highlands National Park and coincide with the International Celtic Colors Festival from October 8 to 16.
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